Day 44 on the Appalachian Trail

After a peaceful and dry night, I set forth at 6:15am on a 1400-foot climb to Bald Knob. The trail wasn't terribly steep for the most part. After a drop, a 500-foot climb brought me to Cole Mountain where the trees had been cut and the shrubs mowed, presumably to create habitat for grassland wildlife. Then down to Hog Camp Gap and water. As I was hiking, I came upon the cottontail rabbit shown in the photo. It sat in the trail and looked at me, even as I got out my camera and took its picture from 4 feet away. I've never seen a rabbit fail to run away quickly. For the next 10 miles, the guide book indicated fairly easy ups and downs. But I got progressively pooped, such that I stumbled frequently. The last 4 miles to The Priest shelter dragged on due to my depleted energy state. Finally, I saw the shelter and a minute later dropped my pack and sat down at the picnic table. Dinner soon followed. Today I met White Owl, a 69-year old through hiker and Lightened Up, a 73-year old section hiker who hiked the Pacific Coast Trail.  Lightened Up gave a pep talk, suggesting that I would do better if I hiked fewer miles per day. He's probably right. Today's miles - 19.7. Total miles - 826.7.

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